I don’t like doing things without being inspired or inclined to do them. To do so rarely leads to very good results. When doing so I have to force creativity and inspiration, which inevitably leads to a forced-feeling final product. The best solution I’ve found to this is to never force work at all.
On any given day, I’ll have a multitude of projects on the go, whether academic, professional, or personal. However, I find I work best on these when I don’t work on them actively. Instead, I tend to go about my day without working on them, filling it at times with mindless routine and at others with activities meant to activate, stimulate, and challenge my brain. These activities aren’t specifically chosen to result in inspiration for any one of my projects in particular. Rather, I’m trusting my brain (which I judge to be most capable) to be able to make the necessary connections between whatever I’m doing and whatever needs to be done. I’m trusting my brain to draw inspiration from my observations of my environment. I’m trusting my brain to generate the passion required for great work. Therefore, unless I’m already stricken with the required inspiration and passion to work, I don’t. Instead, I, quite simply, live life. Inevitably as I’m living life, an idea strikes and then I’ll choose one of my ongoing projects to use as an outlet for my response to said idea. This is when real, creative, fruitful work gets done, as opposed to work that’s forced.
This style of work often annoys others. They question how I’m so sure that a fitting idea will come along in time for me to complete the project by its deadline. The truth is that I’m not sure at all. My method has worked pretty well thus far, and I’ve little worry that it will stop doing so in the future. If that happens, it’ll probably mean that I’ve stopped exercising my brain, in which case I have bigger problems than getting my work done. However, in the event that I’m ever pressed for time and an idea just isn’t coming, I’ve got a solution: impose creative restraints.
Creative restraints are great. They’re like the walls of a sandbox. We could play with all the sand and all the shovels on an entire beach, or we could force ourselves to build something awesome using only the sand and tools found within its walls. When we limit the field from which we draw our ideas, it gets a lot easier to find one that works. If you’re pressed for time, then, the answer is simple. Bring down the number of things you can create in that time by employing some creative restraints. Build some walls and forget about whatever’s outside of them.
If you’re observant, you may notice that what I’m essentially advocating for—or, perhaps, defending—in this piece is procrastination. I want to say that I don’t advocate mindless waiting, or mindless procrastination. I’m arguing for purposeful procrastination. I’m arguing for time well spent. I’m arguing for a better quality final product. I believe in waiting for inspiration to come along, spurred on by my own activities. I believe in working because I have the perfect idea to finish one of my projects.
In the end, I don’t believe in working under pressure. That leads to ugly, forced work. I believe in working under passion. That always leads to great results.